Massachusetts Readies ‘Stimulus Checks’ for Low-Income Workers

Massachusetts Readies ‘Stimulus Checks’ for Low-Income Workers

Several states have launched initiatives to send stimulus checks, or at least payments that look an awful lot like them.


Stimulus checks coming from the federal government are likely a thing of the past, at least in the near term. Checks were sent to most Americans twice in 2020, and once again in the spring of 2021. However, after the American Rescue Plan Act, there has been little push by the White House or any of the leaders in Congress for another round of federal stimulus, while the continuing rise in inflation has further made more huge spending unlikely.

“The economy is booming, there are millions of open jobs, and we do not believe people should be sitting at home if they are vaccinated and boosted, as most adults are,” a Biden administration official told CNN in December. "So we are not going to write checks to incentivize people to sit at home, and we are not going to bail out businesses if the economy seems strong.”


But in the meantime, several states have launched initiatives to send stimulus checks, or at least payments that look an awful lot like them.

California has done so, as has Colorado, and Minnesota is reportedly considering it. This week, the office of Massachusetts gov. Charlie Baker announced that they will send $500 payments to 500,000 people. The payments are the result of a spending plan enacted late last year and paid for from leftover American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“I was pleased to sign the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program into law in December, and our Administration has worked quickly to design the parameters for the program with plans to efficiently begin distribution of these payments by the end of March,” Baker said in the announcement. “This program will support those workers who served our communities, especially early in the pandemic.”

“This first round of payments to low-income workers will provide meaningful support for individuals who continued to work despite the global pandemic,” Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said in the same announcement. “We are pleased that our Administration has been able to quickly design this program to get funds out the door to those workers who the program is intended to support.”

Eligibility for the program is based on 2020 Massachusetts tax returns, and citizens of the state are eligible if their income from employment that year is “at least $12,750 and their total income put them below 300% of the federal poverty level.” Those who received unemployment compensation that year, however, will not be eligible for the first round of payments.

The announcement from the governor’s office does not include the phrase “stimulus checks,” although Digital Market News did describe the payments that way.

Massachusetts has set up a special website for the Essential Employee Premium Pay Program.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.